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An insight into life as a Trainee Solicitor

by Spratt Endicott Solicitors | Sep 21, 2017

Spratt Endicott Solicitors is fortunate to have a number of trainee solicitors throughout the firm.  They are all working in different departments and are at varying stages of their training programme.

Chris Furlong started as a trainee solicitor with us in  2016. Having now successfully completed two of his four seats, Chris offers his insight into his time here as a trainee so far ...

As I embark on my second year as a Trainee Solicitor with Spratt Endicott, it would now be an appropriate time to look back over the past year and reflect on my experience.

Having graduated with an LL.B Law degree in 2009 and completing my LPC in 2016, I used the interim period to gain some legal experience. It is well known that obtaining the lucrative training contract is extremely difficult; the competition is fierce and unfortunately not all those who complete the LPC will ever obtain a training contract.

I believe that the experience I built up between finishing my Law degree and the LPC played a pivotal role in securing a training contract with Spratt Endicott. I would therefore advocate that aspiring trainee solicitors gain as much experience as they possibly can in practice.

I commenced my training contract in July 2016. I must admit, prior to starting I certainly felt some apprehension and nervousness. I had images of arriving on my first day and being casually handed over a file to draft complex Particulars of Claim or research some obscure point of law; I anticipated that I would be expected to know the law inside out. The fear of your supervisor perusing over your work and then telling you that “perhaps you are better suited to photocopying for now” was enough to keep me awake during the night!

First Day

Then, my first day arrived. After the training videos and completing a number of forms, I was taken to my new department, Dispute Resolution, which would be my home for the next six months.

The first day was strange, but enjoyable; to my surprise there was no complex Particulars of Claim to draft, nor was there some obscure point of law to research. I met my friendly supervisor who introduced me to the department. My first task was to familiarise myself with this new dictation device that I would have to speak into whenever I needed something to be done, such as having a letter drafted or photocopying; word of warning, the dictation device is not to be used to ask your secretary to make you a cup of tea!

You soon start to realise that the training contract is merely a taste of life in legal practice and is rather like being a learner driver. Much like a learner driver, under the guidance of your supervisor and over time, you start to get an understanding of the area you are working in. The complexity of your work is increased and you are constantly learning. You are also surprised to learn that you are not expected to remember what you learnt in the 10th class of your Property Law module on the LL.B.

Whilst in the Dispute Resolution department I gained experience in assisting with a vast amount of contentious issues whether it be property ligation, general commercial litigation or contentious probate matters. This first seat in some regard was more challenging than my second as I not only was learning, but I also had to find my way of working in legal practice. Then, as soon as you feel like you are getting an understanding of an area, you are moved onto your next seat!

Second Seat

My second seat was in the Family Department. The skills learnt in Dispute Resolution really helped me with transitioning into another contentious seat. I have enjoyed managing my own caseload and building on the skills developed in my first seat as well as developing new ones. I have gained a great deal of experience from the initial client interview and subsequent advice, all the way through to completing the preparatory work for final hearings and closing the file.

I have been fortunate enough to manage a divorce from start to finish, as well as dealing with various Children Act matters and applications for Financial Remedy Orders. Going to court in Financial Remedy or Children Act proceedings has really helped me to understand and appreciate the procedure involved. When you do your contentious seat during the training contract, I would strongly recommend that you push to go to court as much as possible.

Next Steps

In September 2017 I started a new seat in Employment and will conclude my training with the Commercial Property department. As of yet, I cannot say I know what area I would like to qualify into. I always imagined it would be commercial litigation, and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my seat in Dispute Resolution, I have been pleasantly surprised with just how litigious Family law is. So I shall be keeping my mind open for now; after all I do have two seats left.

Being a Trainee at Spratt Endicott

Spratt Endicott is a brilliant place to be a Trainee Solicitor. Not only does Spratt Endicott have high-calibre lawyers with the expertise to act on behalf of big corporate clients, it is also well established in dealing with private client matters. As a result of the breadth of legal services Spratt Endicott can offer to clients, it can offer its trainees a breadth of different areas to train in.

I believe that the support you are given as a trainee would be hard to find in many firms. I have weekly meetings with my supervisor to discuss what I have been doing and what I will be doing. My supervisor will identify where my knowledge may be lacking and then give me work to facilitate my learning.

Spratt Endicott allows its trainees to be very hands-on and manage their own caseload as a fee-earner within the department; however you do not have targets that could impede your training. Due to the small amount of trainees taken on every year, I have been fortunate enough to work directly under my supervisor who gives me work that matches my capabilities and offers me support and advice in order to deal with a more complex workload.

A bit of advice …

My advice to you if you are applying for a training contract is to:

Get some legal experience to be sure that you want to pursue a career as a solicitor, it is a big commitment.

Network, network, network! I’d suggest asking to do an internship at the firms you intend to apply for, not only will this give you experience for your training contract applications, but it will also mean that you meet various people who may be able to help you on the ladder one day or you may just be in the right place at the right time when something arises.

- Chris Furlong

Conclusion

If you are interested in learning more, visit our Trainees page here http://www.se-law.co.uk/careers/trainees

Or, if you would like to apply for a trainee contract, please forward a covering letter together with your CV to Carole Carbery, HR Manager, careers@se-law.co.uk or contact directly for further information on 01295 204047.

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